My husband said but little that morning. He seemed serious and thoughtful; but never seemed to hesitate as to the course of his duty. As he led the company from the house, he turned himself round, and seemed to have something to communicate. He only said, "Take good care of the children," and was soon out of sight. In the afternoon he was brought home a corpse. He was placed in my bedroom till the funeral. His countenance was pleasant, and seemed little altered.
We've all seen the bumper stickers: "Freedom Isn't Free." How many friends and neighbors have died to first gain, and then retain the rights that many Americans today cannot even recite? Lives cut short. Families torn apart. We should know their names. Issac Davis was a patriot who gave all for the Cause. We should remember and honor him.
Taken from: Hurd, Duane Hamilton. "History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts"(Philadelphia: JW Lewis & Co., 1890); and Larned, JN. "History for Ready Reference" (Springfield, MA: The C.A. Nichols Company, 1895). Edited by Gary M. Bohannon.
I, Hannah Leighton, of Acton, testify, that I am eighty-nine years of age. Isaac Davis, who was killed in the Concord Fight, in 1775, was my husband. He was then thirty years of age. We had four children; the youngest about fifteen months old. They were all unwell when he left me. The alarm was given early in the morning, and my husband lost no time in making ready to go to Concord with his company. A considerable number of them came to the house, and made their cartridges there. The sun was from one to two hours high when they marched for Concord.
My husband said but little that morning. He seemed serious and thoughtful; but never seemed to hesitate as to the course of his duty. As he led the company from the house, he turned himself round, and seemed to have something to communicate. He only said, "Take good care of the children," and was soon out of sight.
In the afternoon he was brought home a corpse. He was placed in my bedroom till the funeral. His countenance was pleasant, and seemed little altered.
On the night of the 18th of April, 1775, Paul Revere rode beneath the bright moonlight through Lexington to Concord, with Dawes and Prescott for comrades. He was carrying the signal for the independence of a nation. He had seen across the Charles River the two lights from the church-steeple in Boston which were to show that a British force was going out to seize the patriotic supplies at Concord; he had warned Hancock and Adams at Rev. Jonas Clark's parsonage in Lexington, and had rejected Sergeant Monroe's caution against unnecessary noise, with the rejoinder, "You'll have noise enough here before long — the regulars are coming out." As he galloped on his way the regulars were advancing with steady step behind him, soon warned of their own danger by alarm-bells and signal-guns.
Before 5 A. M. on April 19, 1775, the British troops had reached Lexington Green, where thirty-eight men, under Captain Parker, stood up before six hundred or eight hundred to be shot at, their captain saying, "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here." It began there; they were fired upon; they fired rather ineffectually in return, while seven were killed and nine wounded. The rest, after retreating, reformed and pursued the British towards Concord, capturing seven stragglers— the first prisoners taken in the war.
Then followed the fight at Concord, where four hundred and fifty Americans, instead of thirtyeight, were rallied to meet the British. The fighting took place between two detachments at the North Bridge, where "once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world."
Less than a year before, in November, 1774, a company of minute-men was raised in Concord by voluntary enlistment, and the men elected Isaac Davis for their commander. The company by agreement met for discipline twice in each week, through the winter and spring till the fight at Concord. When they assembled in response to the alarm on the morning of April 19 the sun was up at a good, cheery height of an hour and a half. The men were drawn up in line, and Captain Davis at last gave the word, "march." Forward they moved with a quick, brave step, and moved along over roads they had traveled often, passing by houses of friends long known, toward the bridge at Concord.
Once there, Colonel Barrett gave consent to make the attack. Davis came back to his company, drew his sword and commanded them to advance six paces. He then faced them to the right, and at his favorite tune of "The White Cockade" led the column of attack towards the bridge. He said, when his company was placed at the head of the little column, "I haven't a man that is afraid to go." By the side of Davis marched Major Buttrick, of Concord, as brave a man as lived, and old Colonel Robinson, of Westford. The British on this began to take up the bridge; the Americans on this quickened their pace. Immediately the firing on both sides began. Davis was at once shot dead through the heart. The ball passed quite through his body, making a very large wound, perhaps driving in a button of his coat. His blood gushed out in one great stream, flying, it is said, more than ten feet, besprinkling and besmearing his own clothes, shoe-buckles and the clothes of Orderly Sergeant David Forbueh and a file leader, Thomas Thorp. Davis, when hit, as is usual with men when shot thus through the heart, leaped up his full length and fell over the causeway on the wet ground, firmly grasping all the while, with both hands, that beautiful gun. After the battle, when his weeping comrades came to take care of his youthful but bloody remains, they, with difficulty, unclutched those hands now cold and stiff in death. He was just elevating to his sure eye this gun. No man was a surer shot.
As Davis fell, Major Buttrick gave the order, "Fire! for God's sake fire!" The British detachment retreated in disorder, but their main body was too strong to be attacked, so they disabled a few cannon, destroyed some barrels of flour, cut down the liberty-pole, set fire to the court-house and then began their return march to Boston. The battle of Concord ended in a flight; the British were exposed to a constant guerilla fire; minute-men flocked behind every tree and house; and only the foresight of Colonel Smith in sending for reinforcements had averted a surrender. At 2 PM, near Lexington, Percy with his troops met the returning fugitives, and formed a hollow square, into which they ran and threw themselves on the ground exhausted. Then Percy in turn fell back. Militia still came pouring in from Dorchester, Milton, Dedham, as well as the nearer towns. A company from Dauvers marched sixteen miles in four hours. The Americans lost ninety-three in killed, wounded and missing that day; the British, two hundred and seventy-three. But the important result was that every American colony now recognized that war had begun.
What a baptism of blood did those soldiers then receive! Davis' case is without a parallel and was so considered by the Legislature and by Congress when they granted aid to his widow. There never can be another Isaac Davis. There never can be but one man who headed the first column of attack on the King's troops in the Revolutionary War. And Isaac Davis was that man.